Friday, January 04, 2019

Bill Lee's Inauguration information.


Good Afternoon Rod --
The deadlines for hotel reservations for Bill Lee's Inauguration are quickly approaching. Please see the information below for details on Governor-elect Bill Lee's Inaugural weekend:
A current schedule of events and a list of hotels are below. If you are interested in participating, please make your reservations at or call 615-750-9330. If you will need a hotel room, please be sure to book within the next few days.   


  • Friday, January 18
  • Saturday, January 19
    • Inaugural Worship Service
      • 8:30am
      • Ryman Auditorium (116 5th Avenue N)
      • Open to Public; Limited Seating; Ticket Required
      • Business Attire
    • Inaugural Ceremony
      • 11:00am
      • Legislative Plaza (301 6th Avenue N)
      • Open to Public; Ticket not required
      • Business Attire
    • Tennessee State Capitol Tours
      • 1:00pm - 3:00pm
      • Tennessee State Capitol (600 Charlotte Avenue)
      • Open to Public; Ticket not required
    • Tennessee State Museum
      • 1:00pm - 5:00pm
      • Tennessee State Museum (1000 Rosa L Parks Boulevard)
      • Open to Pubic;Ticket not required
    • First Couple's Inaugural Dinner and Ball
      • 6:30pm - 11:00pm
      • Music City Center (201 5th Avenue S)
      • $250 per person
      • Complimentary to Inaugural Leadership and Sponsors
      • Business Attire/Black Tie Optional
    • Believe in Tennessee Inaugural Ball
      • 8:00pm - 12:00am
      • Music City Center (201 5th Avenue S)
      • $50 per person
      • Complimentary to Inaugural Leadership and Sponsors
      • Business Attire/Black Tie Optional
  • Sunday, January 20

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

What's on the Council agenda for 1-3-19: prohibiting competition, clemency for Cyntoia Brown, historical preservation.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse.  Normally the Council meets on the first and third Tuesday but since Tuesday was New Year's Day, the Council moved the meeting date to Thursday, January 3rd.   Below, I am highlighting the agenda items I deem the most important and providing some commentary.  To access the Council agenda and the staff analysis follow the highlighted links.

After the call to order, invocation and pledge of allegiance, there will be a report from committees reporting on matters other than legislation. These various committees will be reporting on budget,  contract procurement, innovation and school safety. The council has a special budget subcommittee to look at the budget crisis facing the city including the role that tax increment financing plays in our budget woes.  A new initiative has been launched to "level the playing field," as Mayor Briley calls it, when it comes to minorities getting their "fair share" of Metro contracts. The various committees have been called upon to report on their area of concern for several meetings now but none of them have had much to report.

Next is mayoral appointments for council confirmation. There are nine appointment for consideration. These always get approved. Hundreds of people serve Metro free of charge on numerous boards and commission and their service should be honored and appreciated. However, I,  nevertheless, think the Council should use this process to ensure we are getting the best people and people who will follow wise policies and put the public interest ahead of the interest of the agency they serve.  This is especially true when appointing people to those scandal-ridden or controversial agencies such as MDHA, The Airport Authority, The Hospital Board, Farmers Market or the Human Relations Commission. Maybe some probing questions get asked in Committee, but I doubt it. It would be refreshing if, on occasion, the Council rejected an appointee. None of the appointees on this agenda are to the troubled agencies.

Bills on Public Hearing: There are 24  bills on Public Hearing. Bills on public hearing are usually to rezone a particular piece of property or to change the text of the zoning code.   I do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every zoning bill and they generally bore me and are of interest only the people in the immediate vicinity of the rezoning. I only call attention to bills that trample private property rights, that I know will be controversial for some reason, or have been disapproved by the Planning Commission.  Bills disapproved by the Planning Commission can pass Second Reading by a simple voice vote but require 27 votes to pass on Third Reading. These are the bills on Public Hearing that I find of interest. 

Bill BL2018-1357 and Bill BL2018-1358.  Bill BL2018-1357 cancels a Planned Unit Development Overlay District on property located at 3419 Murphy Road and Bill BL2018-1358 changes from ORI-A to SP the zoning on that property to permit a mixed-use development. I happened to be visiting a relative on Richland Avenue back in November and in about a three block section, about half the houses had signs opposing this development. These bills were scheduled for public hearing on Dec. 4, 2018 and Council Member Kindall moved to defer both bills to this the January 3, 2019 public hearing. To read The Tennessean's coverage of this issue follow this link.

Bill BL2018-1417  would extend Historic Landmark protection to public interior
Should the interior of  historical places be protected
  This is one of those issues about which I am conflicted. I am a strong advocate of private property rights but am also an advocate of historical preservation. I think a sense of place matters and historical places should not be bulldozed for parking lots. If not for the work of preservationist, Nashville would no longer have Union Station or the Ryman Auditorium. Having a designation of a Historic Landmark does not prohibit a property owner from tearing down a historic property but makes it more difficult to do so. I know some people have such strong opinions that they seldom, if ever, have a conflict. I do sometimes have competing values that come into play when evaluating a public policy matter.  Sometimes, public policy is about striking a balance between competing valid concerns.  I do not yet have an opinion on the merits of this bill, but it is not because I don't care enough to have an opinion but because I am conflicted.

Bill BL2018-1418  also concerns historic preservation. It would require Preservation Permits before any person undertaking any action for or with respect to any structure located within any of the historic overlay districts. While I want to preserve historic properties, Government can get too meddling. This would apply to interior renovations, alterations, repairs, or demolition. If someone purchases a home in a historic neighborhood, they should not have to get permission before they can remodel their kitchen, in my view.

Bill BL2018-1438 changes from AR2a to RS10 and RM4 zoning for properties located at Bluff Road approximately 930 feet southwest of Nolensville Pike (60.19 acres). I have no opinion on the merits of the bill but am simply calling attention to it because it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. 
Resolutions: There are 15 resolution. A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passes the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Below are the resolutions of interest.
Resolution RS2018-1508 would encourages a change in the NES policy of collecting contribution to its weatherization program for low income property owners from an opt-in policy to an opt-out policy. Currently if your electric bill is so many dollars and so many cents, you may elect to have your bill rounded up to the next dollar and that odd cents amount goes to a fund to pay the cost of low income property owners to have work done on their home such as insulation to improve energy efficiency. This would change that policy so that your bill was automatically rounded up unless you opted out of that process. I adamantly oppose this.  I contribute routinely to causes and charities I support, but I don't want someone automatically rounding up my bill without my specific informed consent. This is memorializing.  It "encourages" NES to adopt this policy; it would not have to do so but they probably would do so if this passes. It was on the agenda previously and deferred to this meeting.

Cyntoia Brown
Resolution RS2019-1544 request that Governor Bill Haslam grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown. The case of Cyntoria Brown has been widely covered by the Nashville and the national media. Brown, as a 16-year-old prostitute,  killed a john by shooting him in the back of the head. She has been portrayed as a victim of sex trafficking and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna have advocated for clemency on her behalf. Brown has proved a model prisoner and has earned a college degree while in prison.  I am unsure what is the right thing to do, but if I served in the Council, I would oppose this resolution. I don't think the right thing to do is so clear cut, that the Council should be sharing their opinion with the governor. 
Bills on Second Reading.  There are thirteen. Here is one of interest. 
 Bill BL2018-1441  After Bird scooters came to town, the Council then came up with some regulation to govern them as well as rental bicycles and other similar devices. At the time, what was passed by the Council said the number of providers of these "shared urban mobility devices, " could not be limited by Metro government. Since then Lime has come to town and a couple other companies have plans to come to Nashville. This bill would limit the number of operators of these devices to four and would require new providers to get a "certificate of necessity."  This bill needs to be defeated. It probably violates the State constitution and it is bad policy. Metro should not be in the business and curtailing technological advancement or protecting existing providers of a service from competition. 

Bills on Third Reading. There are ten and none are of interest.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. It is also available live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year's from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving

New Yeaersby Rod Williams - New Year's eve is the favorite day of the year to drive drunk. A lot of people who do not normally go to bars and drink will be out drinking and going to private parties and getting drunk.  Getting drunk on for New Year's Eve is a tradition. Unfortunately, a lot of those people who get drunk will be driving and a lot of them are amateurs at driving under the influence. This  guide from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving is provided  to help you improve your drunk driving skills or think about alternatives to drinking and driving.

(1) Don't Drive drunk. That is the number one rule: don't do it. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else.  If you are lucky and don't kill someone else or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children or visitation rights, a lot of money, and maybe your marriage.

If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you. If at a friend's house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night.  Use the ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient.  To use these services you page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until you're drunk to try to download the app. Here is a link to the Uber app.

(2) Pick the designated driver before you start drinking.  If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people, then have a designated driver. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.
Despite the above advice I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk. I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are possibly driving impaired I am providing these below tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

(3) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. See the above tips. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

(4) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” That is what often happens. If during the evening you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner liquore with coffee, and a champagne toast, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.

On occasion, but not as often as I would like, I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight in a four hour period, but it has happened.

A female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

(5)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. In the days before Uber and when you could still park on Broadway, I would visit the honkytonk strip of Lower Broad. I never would  park on Broadway, however. I live on the south side of town, so I would park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. That meant I did not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

(6) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are may have had enough to register drunk and use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Be aware of this.

(7) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

(8) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. This was in a previous car, years ago when headlights did not turn on automatically. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

(9) Do not commit other crimes while driving drunk. If stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, don't compound your problems by being arrested for drunk driving and somethings else.  Don't smoke dope while driving drunk. Don't get arrested for drunk driving and for speeding, or possession of a controlled substance, or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or soliciting prostitution. One crime at a time!

(10) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

(11) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

(12) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

Rep. Bill Beck
(13) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person (link) with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk straight and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop.

(14) Pray.

This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

(15) If you are seeing double, close one eye. 

I have never been arrested for drunk driving but I admit I have been guilty of it. I guess I have been lucky. As a young adult I was more often guilty of it than I have been as an older adult. Nevertheless, from time to time, I still have probably technically met the blood alcohol level for being drunk.

Stay safe. Don't drive drunk. Drive careful. Happy New Year's.

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